Barna: Evangelicals Warming up Slowly to Stewarding the Environment

The Barna Group released a study this week that suggests Evangelicals are becoming more concerned about the environment, and that this change became statistically significant just past year. The report reads:
Most Christians are not satisfied to be mere observers of the green movement. Three-quarters of self-identified Christians (78%) agree they would like to see their fellow Christians take a more active role in caring for God’s creation in a way that is both informed and biblical. Among evangelicals, 90% would like Christians to take a more active role in caring for creation, with 67% agreeing strongly. This sentiment is firmly endorsed by a majority of active churchgoers who are Catholic (52%), mainline Protestant (62%), and non-mainline Protestant (67%).
When asked why "green" behavioral changes were made, most respondants across all faith segments cited a desire to become better stewards over concern over global warming.

Most surveyed have never heard a sermon about "creation care" or being stewards of the environment.

David Kinnaman, who directed the research (and co-authored unChristian), notes that "the Christian community is in tension about environmental engagement, being surprisingly active and engaged, but unsure about what to do next or whom to believe. Many Christians are reluctant to embrace the modern environmental movement, with concerns about the objectivity of the media as well as the best way to solve the problems. Rather, many evangelicals are concerned that proposed solutions to global warming would actually hurt the poor."

I have to confess, I'm one of those evangelicals who've never heard a sermon on the environment. Most of my environmental education came from over 15-years ago when I listened to conservative talk radio. It's only been in recent years, that I've read N.T. Wright and begun to grow a theological framework that's caused me to grow in my concern for the environment. Now, I'm approaching mid-life and have the habits of indifference that need to change. My goal? I'm making a small change or two every few months, waiting for it to feel like its routine, and then adding another.

How about you?


  1. Awesome post. I grew up thinking that concern for the environment was foolish because God is in control of it. Over the past few years I've slowly began to see the importance of taking care of this place. Unfortunately, I don't have a plan in place to improve. Although, I have decided that I will only purchase high efficiency light bulbs from now on. That's a start, right?

  2. I have not heard any sermons on this issue, but I imagine if we were members of the Mars Hill church to whcih Rob Bell ministers we would have. In his book, Velvet Elvis, he writes some interesting thoughts on this subject.

  3. admittedly, I have found a recent enjoyment for recycling simply because it makes me feel good. selfish? maybe, but when I honestly think about it (as I value getting into the habit of analyzing why I do what I do) I think that our call to be good stewards of what we've been given is probably one of the strongest biblical arguments for "being green," as they say.

    Like you, Larry, I have been trying to perpetuate a new habit lately. I think your idea of being consistent with a couple things every few things and then adding a few more is solid.

    Thanks for writing this!

  4. should have said, "...being consistent with a couple things every few MONTHS..."


  5. a speaker came to our church from the christian international environmental organization called A Rocha (http://www.arocha.org/int-en/index.html). He said that 90% of dealing with the environment is working with people. Its a ministry in and of itself. Just thought if you wanted some more help from a christian organization, this might help.

  6. Ron Bell does have a great sermon series entitled, "God is Green". I heard it podcasted probably a year ago. The thing that struck me the most was this: God's biggest monologue in the bible is in Job. The thing He is talking about at GREAT length is His creation. He speaks with great passion, pointing out what He made and how awesome it turned out. He even says, check it out...The stork is a stupid bird, uncaring and harsh to her babies...But when she spreads her wings, oh man - it's amazing, she laughs! It is like God is telling us that He created things for random reasons that we are too limited to "get".
    This is enough argument for me to want to preserve the earth in whatever way I can. It seems it is very close to God's heart.

  7. Larry - My New Years Resolution for 2008 was to adopt a new Green habit every other month. Just like you said, it helps me to create and maintain a habit before finding something new.

    As a member of Mars Hill it's nice to see the comments about my church. The "God is Green" series is FABULOUS and I highly recommend getting your hands on them. Last winter our church installed new energy saving lights in our Shed (Sanctuary?) and our cost went down SO MUCH that the electric company actually stopped by the church to see if something had gone wrong! We serve Fair Trade coffee and encourage people to bring their own mugs to church. That might not sound like a big deal but when coffee is served to 6000 people every Sunday every little bit helps.

    I think it's awesome how so many Christians are getting on board with the new (old) Green movement. I hope people change their lifestyles and that Being Green doesn't become just another fad.

  8. Our discipleship pastor gave a conservation sermon last month, but unfortunately, I'm too late in downloading the mp3 of it to share.

    My wife and I have been actively recycling for years as our part in caring for the environment. We intentionally bought the lowest quantity trash service available. And our community has the #1 recycling program in Pennsylvania, and I would wager better than 99% of the cities in the US.

    Our city facility has taken cardboard, flatboard, plastics 1-7, cans, glass, office paper, books and magazines (which include gift wrapping paper), scrap metal, textiles, newspapers, and phone books, AND styrofoam!

    As of last week, we can now recycle plastics 3-7 and aluminum foil at the curb alone with glass, plastics 1-2, and metal cans. As of Jan 1, they will be collecting cardboard, flatboard, paper, newspapers, magazines, books, and phone books at the curb. All for a grand total of $40/year in our water bill.

    Oh, and we also have a city compost center in which we can take all of our brush clippings and Christmas trees - after all, I do live in Bethlehem, PA which is Christmas City, USA. They collect our leaves 2-4 times a fall. And they provide free mulch and compost from all that to anyone in our area.

    My dad still argues it isn't economical, but our city MAKES over $500,000 by recycling. It's much better for me to pay $40 every year than to pay higher takes and $40-50/quarter for trash service. Everyone wins, including the earth!

    By the way - Home Depot now accepts all CFLs for free recycling. I started using them, and am glad to hear there is actually a place to take them.